Best Buy, also known as the "big blue box," is a well known specialty retailer of consumer electronics that is the top such chain in the eastern United States and one of the top two in the west. Customers like shopping at Best Buy because of the large selection of products offered in each category of electronics and because, unlike the on-line retailers, you can actually see and touch the products you are considering buying.
Most all of us have experienced shopping hard to find the best price on a high end electronic product only to be confronted at the cash register with an array of additional service plans that you are not sure you need, but are afraid not to buy; and once you decide to take one, it eats up all the savings you thought your hard work had gotten you. As you can imagine, these service plans are a huge money maker for Best Buy as the vast majority of products work well beyond the warranty and no claims are made. Indeed, one former Best Buy employee reported that the Best Buy extended warranties were referred to within the stores as the "cheese" and if salespeople did not sell enough "cheese" they were severely reprimanded and threatened by their managers.
Recently, consumers have reported some very questionable business practices concerning Best Buy’s hard selling of these service plans. One consumer reported having been sold a Garmin GPS device along with a $70 one year service plan. Unfortunately, the unit stopped working just 8 days later. Although Best Buy promptly and properly exchanged the unit, the purchaser was told that the service plan was valid only for the original device, and that another $70 service plan would have to be bought for the GPS system to be covered by an extended warranty.
Another customer reported while in Best Buy he inquired whether they had any of the hot Apple iPad 2 tablets in stock. He was told no, but as he walked around he noticed 40 or so boxes containing the units in a locked overhead storage area. The customer inquired again, but was told that those units were already sold. A few minutes later, a sales manager approached the shopper and offered to sell him one of the units, but only if he purchased an approximately $110 service plan.
In a third case, a man purchased a Toshiba PC that stopped working. He took the product to Best Buy’s renowned "Geek Squad" who explained that they could fix it by removing the virus he claimed had infected the unit but only upon the purchase of a $200 service plan. He was told that there was no way he could pay just for the single repair.
These are not the first allegations that Best Buy engages in fraudulent business practices regarding its sale of these service plans. In 2000, two Florida consumers sued claiming that Best Buy employees misrepresented the manufacturer’s warranty in order to sell Best Buy’s own service plan, and used artificial barriers to discourage people who bought the plans from making claims for service. It is believed that Best Buy settled the claim for six figures.
If you believe you have been a victim of unscrupulous sales practices concerning Best Buy’s service plans, please contact us to discuss your rights.